Benjamin Koen, “Beyond the Roof of the World: Music, Prayer, and Healing in the Pamir Mountains”, Oxford University Press, 2008

Homeinfosparutions livresBenjamin Koen, “Beyond the Roof of the World: Music, Prayer, and Healing in the Pamir Mountains”, Oxford University Press, 2008

Dr. Benjamin D. Koen Medical, Cognitive, & Applied Ethnomusicology, Beyond the Roof of the World: Music, Prayer, and Healing in the Pamir Mountains, Oxford University Press, 2008.


Western medicine has conventionally separated music, science, and religion into distinct entities, yet traditional cultures throughout the world have always viewed music as a bridge that connects and balances the physical with the spiritual to promote health and healing. As people in even the most technologically advanced nations across the globe struggle with obtaining affordable and reliable healthcare, more and more people are now turning to these ancient cultural practices of holistic and ICAM healing (integrative, complementary, and alternative medicine).

Beyond the Roof of the World convincingly demonstrates the relevance of medical ethnomusicology in light of the globally spreading ICAM approaches to health and healing. Revealing the Western separation of healing from spiritual and musical practices as a culturally determined phenomenon, Dr. Benjamin D. Koen confirms their underlying unity. In a place poetically known as the Roof of the World, the culture found within the towering Pamir Mountains of Badakhshan Tajikistan serves as the paradigm of ICAM healing practices. Koen’s extensive research and immersion into the Badakhshani culture provides a well-balanced “insider” perspective while maintaining an “observer’s” view, as he effectively bridges the widespread gaps between ethnomusicology, health science, and music therapy. Moving beyond the paradigm of the Pamir Mountains to reach out to cultures across the globe, Koen infuses scholarship with lived experience and applied practice as he shows spirituality and musicality to be intimately intertwined with one’s physical life, health and healing.

Table of Contents

Language Pronunciation and Transliteration 1. Medical Ethnomusicology and the Ontology of Oneness 2. The Five Factors of Music, Prayer, Health, and Healing 3. Music-Prayer Dynamics and Cognitive Flexibility 4. Soundscape and Musical-Spiritual Entrainment 5. Healthscape, Mystical Poetry, and Multimodal Healing 6. Transformative Meaning In Sound, Empowered Sound In Culture 7. Human Certainty Principle, of Science, Spirituality, and Experience Notes References Index


“A fascinating exploration of the powerful intersection of music, prayer and healing in the remarkable cultural context of Tajik society in the Pamirs that suggests just how music and prayer may mediate therapeutic change. A telling illustration of the new medical ethnomusicology. An intriguing read!”–Arthur Kleinman, Harvard University, author of What Really Matters

“Dr. Koen has moved the emerging field of medical ethnomusicology forward with personal insight, models for discourse and cross-disciplinary scholarship. This text is not to simply be read, but to be studied and used as a template to discover what is fully possible when music, culture and medicine converge.”–Michael Rohrbacher, Ph.D., MT-BC, Director of Music Therapy, Shenandoah University

“Benjamin Koen weds grounded ethnography to overtly experimental subject matter. His book challenges the reader with its proposals for social engagement and for an issue-oriented ethnomusicology.”–Kay Kaufman Shelemay, G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music, Harvard University, co-editor of Pain and Its Transformations: The Interface of Biology and Culture

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